Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha/ file image
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha/ file image

A probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has so far revealed that Sahara Q Shop investments were being converted into other schemes in Saharayan Universal Multipurpose Society Ltd, Sahara Credit Co-operative Societies and two other societies of the group, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

The SFIO, which comes under the corporate affairs ministry, has been entrusted with the investigation into the affairs of Sahara Q Shop (SQS) and eight other companies of the Sahara Group.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Sitharaman -- who is in charge of finance and corporate affairs portfolios -- said the corporate affairs ministry has been receiving large number of complaints, "approx. 17,000 from investors and through various authorities for non-payment of investment amount against Sahara Q Shop Unique Products Range Ltd".

An SFIO probe was ordered into the affairs of Sahara Q Shop Unique Products Range Ltd, Sahara Q Gold Mart Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd on October 31, 2018.

According to the minister, the SFIO has examined that majority of the complaints pertain to collection of deposits on false assurance, conversion of investments of Sahara Housing Corporation Ltd and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd into Sahara Q Shop and other Sahara group companies, and conversion of deposits from Sahara Q Shop to co-operative societies of Sahara Group.

Complaints also relate to non-payment of maturity deposits and forceful conversion of money of investors into other group companies.

"There are complaints alleging the conversion of investments of Sahara Housing Corporation Ltd and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. The directors of these companies of Sahara have confirmed the conversions during the investigation by SFIO.

"The collection/ repayments/ conversions have been done through a partnership firm namely 'Sahara India' and huge fund flow is seen from Sahara India into the books of account of Sahara Housing Corporation Ltd and Sahara Q Shop. Funds have been transferred from Sahara Housing Corporation Limited to Sahara Q Shop also," the minister said.

She also said the database of the investors of SQS and other group entities which have collected money from public has been obtained and the database revealed that the money collected across 26 states of the country is through 2.77 crore policies.

The data regarding the cases lodged by the investors in different states is not maintained by the corporate affairs ministry, she added.

"The investigation by SFIO so far has revealed that SQS investments are being converted into other schemes in Saharayan Universal Multipurpose Society Ltd, Sahara Credit Co-operative Societies and two other societies of the group. SFIO is entrusted with the investigation into the affairs of Sahara Q Shop and eight other companies of the Sahara Group," the minister said.

In the written reply, the minister cited a Supreme Court order, dated August 31, 2012, wherein Sebi was directed to make refund to only those investors who invested in Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures (OFCDs) of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) and/ or Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL).

"Prima facie refund to investors of Sahara Q Shop is not covered under Hon'ble Supreme Court order," the minister said.

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